Highways, roads being discussed at Fall Lake

by Nancy McReady

Just like the migration of birds, Lake County Commissioner Clair Nelson and Lake County Sheriff Steve Peterson returned for a visit to the Fall Lake Township April meeting. <BR><BR>“We’re just here if anyone has any darts to throw at us,” said Nelson. <BR><BR>Nelson said that he has been trying to keep up with the 3,000 plus bills the state legislature has before them. He then asked for questions from the audience. <BR><BR>The first question was about the status of the Highway 1 improvements. Nelson said that even though the formal comment period is closed, people could still voice their concerns about the project. <BR><BR>“It is best to send your comments to Mark VanEvery with the Forest Service,” said Nelson. “Lake County gave up some Forest Highway money to get the Highway 1 project started.” <BR><BR>Nelson noted that even though 95 percent of Highway 1 is in Stony River Township, they weren’t invited to any of the planning meetings. <BR><BR>One Fall Lake resident questioned why the project couldn’t be completed if it was for safety reasons, and asked why do we have to have all these meetings. <BR><BR>Nelson agreed that it would be common sense to make the improvements to the road, but that’s just the way the system works. “Nothing has been done on Highway 1 in over 70 years,” said Nelson. “And after this, there probably won’t be anything more done in another 70 years. We’re not going to build a freeway here, but it will be safe and it will be scenic.” <BR><BR>Clerk Marlene Skube read a letter received from Lake County Road Supervisor Al Goodman that stated a similar controversy over the Highway 11 from the Range to Silver Bay as there is about Highway 1 improvements. Goodman’s letter stated that Highway 11 is now hailed as a great road. <BR><BR>Rob Harri stated his concerns over the loss of funding to the county. He suggested that when the Kawishiwi Bridge is replaced, that the present bridge be used to cross the Kawishiwi River for the Kawishiwi Trail extension. <BR><BR>Nelson said that there are ongoing meetings for the Kawishiwi Trail extension. <BR><BR>Another question Nelson fielded included the possibility of combining services with St. Louis County, in a shared garage facility. Nelson said everything had to be taken in consideration. Supervisor Nick Milkovich added that the issue was too new to make a decision. More information was needed. <BR><BR>Ernie Seliskar brought up the problem of the terrible heat loss at the Lake County garage. “It gets all iced up,” said Seliskar. <BR><BR>Nelson said this is an issue that would be addressed. Repairs are needed on the Lake County garage, and this may be a consideration in determining if a shared facility with St. Louis would be a good thing for Lake County. <BR><BR>The proposed improvements to the Cloquet Line were also addressed. When asked if an ATV trail along the Cloquet Line was still a possibility, Milkovich said, “Not really. This hasn’t been on the table lately. Our main concern is in getting the improvements made to the road, with St. Louis County beginning their half of the project first.” <BR><BR>Next up was Lake County Sheriff Peterson. Peterson kept his talk brief, informing township residents about the increase in identity theft and burglaries in the area. He said that several cases have been solved because people have written down license numbers of vehicles they were not familiar with. <BR><BR>“These people are coming from outside the area,” said Peterson. “A couple in the Cedar Lake area recently had their mail stolen and a pile of mail had been found alongside the road in the Ely area.” <BR><BR>Peterson said there are over 500,000 identity thefts across the country each year. <BR><BR>“Get your mail out of your roadside mailboxes as soon as possible,” said Milkovich. <BR><BR>Peterson said he has been attending many meetings with the Forest Service in regard to the continuing fire danger in the blowdown area and also for Homeland Security. <BR><BR>“Our department gets several alerts daily that pertain to border crossings in this area and along Lake Superior,” said Peterson. “The best thing to do is keep your eyes and ears open and look out for strange people and vehicles, any changes, in your area.” <BR><BR>Another topic the sheriff brought up was that of the big increase of meth labs (methamphetamine) in the area. He said he had attended a class on what to lookout for - strange smells, reactions in kids, behavior of neighbors, etc. The class was video taped and is available upon request. <BR><BR>Milkovich will contact Luke Lucas with the law enforcement classes at Vermilion about have a viewing of the tape for the public, along with a crime prevention presentation. <BR><BR>In other Fall Lake Township business, treasurer Don Stocks said that the county has been doing more correspondence and interaction between townships electronically. <BR><BR>“It’s about time Fall Lake was brought into the 21st century,” said Stocks. <BR><BR>He has looked into various prices on computers for the township. Commissioner Nelson said that the county might be able to help out in getting a computer with the county discount. <BR><BR>Transfer station attendant Dan Rozman requested an additional recycling bin for the summer. Milkovich will check on this, and said that a new double canister had been ordered, as requested last month. <BR><BR>A letter of thanks was received for the use of the Morse/Fall Lake Volunteer Fire Department new pumper truck in response to the recent fire at the Babbitt Junction. <BR><BR>“They had just gotten that truck the night before,” said Milkovich. “They did a good job.” <BR><BR>In other correspondence: <BR><BR>• The road easement for Ernie’s Road was received. <BR><BR>• Received a letter informing the board of the Ely Area Community Foundation, which Supervisor Mary Tome said would provide funding for community needs that were not project specific. <BR><BR>• Received an invitation to the next Ely Library Board meeting, but due to conflicts Tome will arrange for a special meeting. <BR><BR>• A thank you letter for past donations to the Ely Igloo Snowmobile Club, along with a request for addition funds to address the many repairs to the club’s grooming equipment. The board approved sending the snowmobile club $500. <BR><BR>• A thank you for the recent donation to Ely Community Resource. <BR><BR>• A request for recreation funds for Ely Little League, which was also approved at a $1 per capita, for a total of $600. <BR><BR>• A request for recreation funds for Ely Community Education, which was approved at $1 per capita, for a total of $600. It was noted in the letter that the request was being made to other government entities at the $1 per capita rate. Ely- $3,724; Morse - $1,253; Fall Lake - $600; Winton - $185; and Eagles Nest - $170. <BR><BR>• Several notices were received for permits for new constructions and public hearings for relief of setbacks and rezoning of properties. <BR><BR>Supervisor Rod Gruba said several township roads had been graded, but some roads are too muddy to be graded yet. Road inspection of the township’s 17.8 miles of roads, within Fall Lake’s 400 square miles, will be held on April 15. <BR><BR>“It takes us a good three hours to inspect all of our roads,” said Gruba. <BR><BR>Tome said she had a copy of a joint fire protection agreement from Little Falls that Fall Lake could follow for their agreement with Morse Township. Another source for agreements is available on the Township Association’s website. <BR><BR>Milkovich reported on the township short course that he, Stocks and Skube attended. <BR><BR> “All kinds of new laws were reviewed,” said Milkovich. “It was very informational and good for us to be there.” <BR><BR>Milkovich said he has been attending the ambulance committee meetings, and a new contract is being discussed. <BR><BR>Adding a bit of levity to the township meeting which made the crowd chuckle, was the request for a turtle crossing sign for Sunset Road. Several turtles cross the road due to a beaver dam. Commissioner Nelson said he could check with the county about having a sign made. <BR><BR>The Lake County Board of Review, giving property owners an opportunity to discuss or contest their proposed taxes, will be held on May 11, 2004.